One of Westminster’s finer hours

After serious scrutiny, examination and reflection on the heinous crimes that were committed last week, Westminster MPs decided to vote against taking direct military action Syria.

If the SNP wins next year’s Scottish referendum, the elected representatives of Scotland will not have this realistic option of carefully deciding whether a brutal, totalitarian dictator should face consequences of direct military action.

I personally agree with the majority of MPs who voted no. I do not think a military intervention would have helped the Syrian people, however, this threat of action may well be a final warning to Assad that the world will not sit back idly and watch innocent Syrians being slaughtered.

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This threat of military action may also be a step towards the international community, especially Russia and China, forming a consensual resolution to help stop this terrible civil war.

Regardless of what the international community come up with, the United Kingdom has been at the forefront of condemning the illegal use of chemical weapons and asserting its position that military action would never be off the table if there were further atrocities committed against innocent Syrians.

How would a separate Scotland influence the international community in these circumstances? No doubt our politicians as well as the vast majority of Scots would condemn this moral outrage of using chemical weapons.

However, what we do know is that Scotland would be an insignificant and a relatively irrelevant nation when it comes to influencing and, if need be, threatening brutal leaders like Assad in halting their wicked slaughtering of their own people.

The last few days surely taught us that Scotland carries more weight, influence and international authority being part of the United Kingdom.

Robert McGregor


SOME world leaders would do everybody a favour if they stopped addressing their people as feeble-minded, forgetful dimwits and started talking to us in acknowledgement that we lack neither memory nor common sense.

I have lived long enough to remember the napalm saturation of Vietnam, and the assault on the town of Fallujah in Iraq by US forces, and today the after-effects of the chemical constituents employed in both instances is well-documented in legacies of infant deformity and mortality, not to mention the immediate ruinous effect on the people directly attacked at the time.

Similarly, people are being lectured about how missile bombardment of Syria by some Western forces will be for humanitarian reasons, and to save the lives of innocent Syrians. All such utterances are insulting to common sense and basic human intelligence.

We have memories that don’t have to be superhuman to recall Iraq and Libya, for example, and what “benefits” Western military interventions issued in there. Every day there are reports of deadly car bombings in Iraq, and about as much stability in Libya as you would find if stuck in the middle of a herd of stampeding buffalo.

Thank heavens a measure of sanity has somehow managed to survive in the Westminster Parliament despite substantial signs it has departed the offices of state.

Ian Johnstone


The coalition’s defeat highlights the stupidity of parliamentary recesses (other than in the festive season and for routine maintenance during party conferences).

Recalling parliament inevitably over-dramatises events, and was particularly unwise and unnecessary when the new session would start only two days later.

In a recess, ministers are out of touch both with each other and with MPs, enabling one or two (such as Foreign Secretary William Hague) to ratchet up expectations and their own influence.

The vacationing Prime Minister clearly had no idea of how attitudes were developing, and allowed himself to be stitched up by Labour leader Ed Miliband. It also meant that on such a vital issue, almost 100 MPs did not vote, permitting a hardly overwhelming majority of only 13 against the principle of military action.

Governments govern 52 weeks per year and require constant scrutiny by parliament, if necessary on only three days per week, with staggered holidays like normal enterprises.

John Birkett

St Andrews

I felt proud to be British on Friday morning, proud that our system and our MPs of all parties can overcome all the pressures and vote for common sense. The overwhelming feeling of the vast majority of people in the UK was against attacking Syria.

There was only one winner in the Commons vote on Thursday – democracy.

Alexander McKay


What is it about Downing Street that makes prime ministers take leave of their senses and attempt to drag us into foreign wars in which we have no national interest?

Political leaders of all stripes have finally maxed out the credit card of trust they held with the British people – as David Cameron discovered when the Commons ate his card.

As far as the public is concerned, Gordon Brown’s words to Tony Blair now apply to the lot: “There is nothing that you could say to me now that I could ever believe.”

Some claim it is a mistake to allow Iraq and the Bush-Blair lies to cast a perpetual shadow over the West’s foreign policy but that view is not shared by our most eminent soldiers.

As General Sir Michael Rose rightly said: “Iraq created mayhem across the Islamic Crescent resulting in misery and death for local people as well as visceral distrust of the West.”

As a student in the 1960s, I often marched against the Vietnam war under a banner which read: “Bombing for peace is like raping for virginity” – and nothing has changed.

(Dr) John Cameron

St Andrews

The gas attack in Syria was horrible beyond contemplation, but in terms of future loss of life the alternative of intervention by the West could be infinitely worse.

That parliament recognised this is clear from the result of Thursday’s vote in the House where morality confronted pragmatism and the strictest requirements of democracy, however distasteful, prevailed.

This was a defeat for Mr Cameron the politician but it may not be seen as such for Cameron the man.

Peter Laidlaw